Warm Markets vs. Cold Markets (written August, 1996)

Being that I have analyzed hundreds upon thousands of offers over many years now and running, it amazes me how many good people have “no clue” when it comes to advertising. These good people take “warm market” flyers and mail them to “cold markets” and wonder why they get little or no response. It shouldn’t make you wonder anymore after you read this. You are taking offers meant for your friends and business associates and mailing them to people who don’t know you. That is a recipe for total failure to the most disastrous proportions!

Let me first explain what a “warm market” is. A simple definition of what a warm market is are people you are friendly with, people who have done business with you, people who have joined other programs with you, your family and friends, and possibly people who are soliciting you. This last category is a bit of a reach, but we will throw it into the mix. These people know you or know of you.

Then what is a “cold market”? A cold market is defined as people who don’t know you, never done business with you, probably have no idea who you are. That is what a cold market is. These people do not know of you.

How does this apply to advertising? The answer is why so many of you fail. When you send your flyer into a publication or for print and mail, these publishers are going to mail your offer to some of their warm markets and some of their cold markets – but to the publisher’s warm market, which is still considered your cold market. Obviously the publisher’s cold market is your cold market too, so consequently none of these people know who you are or what you are about. My point?  I print about 1.2 million flyers myself each month for my customers. I would guess over a million of these flyers I am printing are warm market flyers. They are geared and they read as if they are suppose to be sent to people who know you, done business with you, know of you, etc. Consequently what happens? Little to poor response. Who gets blame? The publisher! We did something wrong?

No publisher in his right mind would turn down any advertising dollar – that would be insane – advertising dollars are what he lives on – his job is to mail your offer. Publishers do mailings – not miracles! As a publisher myself and though it disappoints me to see these flyers that I am printing have little to no chance to succeed, what can a publisher do? Have you ever noticed that all publications – from Popular Science to my very own print and mail service have 90% different offers each month? Why? The publisher? Wrong! Most of the time it is because too many of you good people are taking warm market flyers and mailing them to cold markets unintentionally. Not only do you lose so does the publisher.

What can be done to improve this situation? First you need to understand that publishers are mailing your offers to cold markets and you should be mailing your own offers to your own warm markets. How do you create or develop your own warm markets? One thing I personally do is to generate leads. I place ads and flyers with other publishers to generate leads. How do you generate a lead – give away free information on what you are doing. When you get responses to these ads and flyers you are placing, then follow them up with your warm market flyers and probably a cover letter to introduce yourself. Then take this person’s name and put them into your computer database and mail them your offers every 2-3 months. Over time, you will get your best response to these warm market names. Who else goes into your warm market list? Obviously people who have joined into programs with you. These people are great to solicit other offers to. Another warm market list would be people who sent you their offers in the mail. A lot of these people need direction and a person they can be in contact with so by mailing them an offer every couple of months is a great way to build a relationship with them even though they did not ask specifically for information.

That’s about it. If you are mailing warm market flyers or placing warm market ads to people who do not know you, you will fail. I highly recommend you start advertising to the right people the right way. You’ll be a success in no time!

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.